Below, the very best shops to hit when you absolutely need outstanding, and sometimes obscure, beer from all over the world.
2. Beer Table to Go
Grand Central Terminal, Graybar Passage; 212-922-0008
New York’s most meticulously crafted beer store is arguably run out of 300 square feet in Grand Central Terminal’s Graybar Passage. Justin Philips closed his celebrated Park Slope beer bar in 2013, focusing instead on this takeout spot. The shop is small, but the long line of commuters during rush hour attests to the sheer number of beers in back — around 100 different options, both local and obscure. Philips, a former beer distributor, has also made a habit of releasing vintage bottles from the cellar on Sundays, selling incredibly rare offerings like a 2005 Gale’s Prize Old Ale or a 1995 Thomas Hardy’s Ale. (And there’s good news for people who don’t make it to Grand Central too often: The Philipses are working on two new Beer Table stores. The new locations will be revealed in the coming months, but both promise to be larger in size than the current shop.)
3. Good Beer NYC
422 E. 9th St., nr. Ave. A; 212-677-4836
Since opening six years ago, David Cichowicz’s East Village beer emporium has steadily kept pace with the city’s growing thirst for craft beer, now stocking close to 700 varieties (the selection of canned beers is particularly strong) and running 12 taps, with growler fill-ups going for about $12 to $30. The refrigerated case is giant, meaning there’s room to chill bottles from even the most offbeat brewers, and the kitchen in back serves up heritage chorizo, kielbasa, vegan sausage, and pretzels.
4. New Beer Distributors
167 Chrystie St., nr. Rivington St.; 212 260-4360
Many of New York’s original craft-beer destinations have closed lately, but this little family-owned emporium, located in a dank Chrystie Street warehouse, remains. Customers are mostly left to fend for themselves, but the 800-plus bottles are organized geographically, and staff are happy to assist if asked. New Beer isn’t without its downsides: It’s massive, so bottles can literally sit idle for years, and it’s not air-conditioned, meaning the summer heat can take a toll on hoppier beers. But enterprising shoppers know this also means they can score vintage beers that wouldn’t be available elsewhere — pre-aged and ready to go.